armor is important, and if you have an armor bonus, you should take advantage of it and at least put some minimal armor on. and you SHOULD use armor repair modules, at least one, but you should take away one piece of armor if you do. and yes, armor is very good to have, even if you aren’t against fighters.
There are 3 reasons to consider using armor, best explained by talking about a ship with no armor:
Fighters, which can go inside your shield and pummel your hull directly.
When using multiple shields, once any of the shields go down, some damage will start getting through to your hull.
The “diminishing returns” on shields are 0.9. A ship with 7 shields and no armor will have a total effective shield strength of 3.7 shields but uses the full cost in crew, power and honor/resource points of 7 shields. (A ship with 4 shields and armor will have an effective shield strength of 2.9 shields + 3 armors, and requires less power + crew + cost).
Hope this helps! Cruiser armor, when repaired, continues to protect the ship. Shields, once down, are down for good even if repaired. But if a cruiser armor module is completely destroyed it is also out of the fight. Fighter armor can be replaced by sending fighters to a fighter repair bay (cruiser module) as tested on version 1.23 (prior versions did not do this)[/edit]
Despite popular opinion, I prefer very little armor for most ships (0-2) and no more than 3 even for defense oriented ships. Having fighters to counter fighters and maybe a little extra fighter defense on other ships seems to make up for not having much armor. The defense fighters and even a frigate’s anti-fighter missiles all work as offense after the opposing fighter swarm is eliminated.
I used to have four armour, but I’m finding that 2+repair is better, and frees up a slot. I imagine in the no-fighter battles 0 would be fine, but as I try to keep my number of ship designs small, I put up with sub-optimal choices at times.
Is 2 Armor + repair what most people usually go with? I generally try to skimp on armour, only taking one armour module in favor of other equipment, reasoning that once the shields fail, the ship is mostly done for anyway. Maybe the seconds that more armour buys you is worthwhile on cruisers though.
Oddly, I find myself using a lot more armour on my low power frigates since it’s the only thing I can fit on the ship when I run out of power.
The important thing to consider is the average armor thickness of your ship. The average armor thickness determines how much armor penetration is needed for a shot do deal damage to the armor, rather than bouncing off. You almost always want to have a thickness of 10 or so, to prevent fighters from chewing you up from inside your shields.
I tend to have two different classes of armor usage:
For most cruisers and frigates I fit minimal armor. As described above, this means having just enough armor to stop fighter lasers from penetrating (10-12 average thickness is usually good). This usually does require 2 modules of armor on a cruiser, but it varies a bit depending on hull bonuses and the total number of modules on the ship.
The other sort of armor usage is when I want a heavy cruiser to serve as an armor tank. This is a ship with a ton of armor which is almost impossible for the enemy to kill. The plan for an armor tank design is to get the average armor thickness up to 65 or 70 so that most weapons can’t deal any damage (this typically requires that you put armor modules into turret hardpoints). You’ll also want a few repair modules to fix up damage from the few critical hits that bypass the armor thickness check. Armor tank ships are always deployed out in front of the rest of the fleet, and typically have only the most basic offensive weapons on them, preferring to fit more PD turrets or tractor beams rather than dealing damage themselves (though this can vary with the overall fleet composition).
I also build a few fast frigates with no armor at all, with the understanding that they are cheap and disposable. They rarely work as well as I intend though, and of course die in droves to any fleet with a substantial fighter force.
I tend to use armor first on frigates. If a frigate attracts the attention of a cruiser, it’s dead anyway (unless the cruiser can’t hit it due to speed). Fighters, on the other hand, eat unarmored frigates for breakfast. While the shield bubble is smaller, those pesky fighters will fly inside it anyway.
Heh, I had fun with the armour tank idea today. However I can see why it was banned from one of the tournaments. The build breaks the game somewhat when one of your ships becomes an unkillable tank. I suppose the trick is making sure that the enemy keeps wasting it’s fire on your tank. It is a fun trick in any case.
I’ve been experimenting with heavily armoured frigates for anti-fighter tasks, but I’ve found that in small tests an armour rating of 12-13 is sufficient for one frigate armed with anti-fighter missiles to defeat a whole squadron of rebel laser fighters. I’ve yet to see how this scales to battles with more squadrons though.
How does making an armour tank work? I just added six armour to a cruiser, giving me an average armour of 126, and was wrecked by weapons with a penetration rating of less than 70. Hell, if I only had one heavy armour item, I’d have an average armour of 126 (126/1) … so how does this work?
Yep. A frigate with 12 armor is far more useful to me than one with shields and 0 armor. I generally only deploy two kinds of frigates. The hide and lob missiles kind, and the hide and eat stray fighters kind. Since fighters move in a cloud, even when they target the cruisers, a few always zip over into range of the fighter eating frigate (12 armor, tractor beam, anti-fighter missiles). When my frigate has no fighters in range of the tractor, they are generally still in range of the AF missiles so they still have a chance of taking down a fighter or two with every volley. BTW, you’ll likely need both shields and armor if the enemy deploys more than 1 or 2 squadrons of the evil rocket fighter (a fighter with no armor, rockets and a speed > 4.5). Those things are so fast but they often end up firing from well outside of the shield bubble.
The idea of the armor tank came up early in the beta. As near as I can tell, the top armor piercing weapons have been tweaked from “70+” to “whatever.” There might be something of a sliding scale of damage, and there is always the crit% (which allows any weapon to damage armor some % of the time.) I dunno how it’s implemented, maybe the crit% is something like 50% on those super anti-armor weapons. At any rate, after the tweaks, armor tanks went from insane crazy good to just interesting. The tanks still last far longer than other kinds of ships taking the same sort of pounding. Especially with some armor repair modules in there (as armor gets weakened, more kinds of weapons can get through. Keep the thickness up with repair.) Just don’t expect an armor tank to be “invulnerable.”
I wonder if you could get away with just using armor. Rockets have a penetration of 12 or 15, I can’t remember which, but on a 4 hardpoint, 6 module frigate you can easily achieve an armor thickness of over 20 which should keep your frigate safe considering the low chance of critical hits from slow firing rockets.
On the other hand, frigates with that much armor start to become less cost efficient fighter counters. The cost of frigates with 20 armor starts to approach 1000, about 1/3 the cost of a cruiser. I’d wonder if it would be more cost effective to save your money on more cruisers at that point and simply go straight for the kill with your cruisers who can ignore the rocket fighters or mount a few anti-fighter weapons as you see fit.